Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days on every restaurant’s calendar.
So, how do the busiest restaurants keep themselves busy on Valentine’s Day? Here are five tactics they use to keep the love-bird business alive and well.
Entente – Chicago, Illinois
The brainchild of Michelin-starred Chef Brian Fisher and Ty Fujimura of Fujimura Hospitality rarely sees a slow night on Chicago’s north side. In fact, would-be patrons typically need to call in a reservation up to three weeks ahead of their actual visit. According to Entente’s website, they were fully booked for this Valentine’s Day before Thanksgiving 2019.
Entente is well-known in the Windy City for its dry-aged fish dishes and its well-rounded desert tasting menu. Its ever-evolving seasonality of game, seafood, meat and vegetables inspire the direction of the kitchen, according to its website.
Those lucky enough to get a table on Valentine’s Day know how lucky they are to have a reservation. But, one thing they don’t know is what they will be eating. No one outside of the kitchen knows, either. This year, Entente is offering two tasting menus for Valentine’s Day. One is an 8-course while the other is a 12-course, though neither menu has been released to the public.
Minibar by Jose Andres – Washington D.C.
Jose Andres cut his teeth in the restaurant industry during his time with the Spanish military when he was 18. After serving for a couple of years, he moved to the United States with one goal in mind—to cook the best food he possibly could.
Now, Chef Andres owns restaurants in Las Vegas, New York, and even a swanky joint in the nation’s capital that boasts a two-month lead time for reservations on an average night. For Valentine’s Day, you’re looking at almost a year wait time.
What makes Minibar such a special place to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Besides eating food prepared by Chef Andres, of course. Minibar’s in-house sommelier will be on-hand to pair your favorite dish with some world-class wine. This experience is sure to leave guests pondering the limits of what is possible with food and drink.
The French Laundry – Yountville, California
Never heard of Yountville? Neither had I. But, I hear there is this restaurant owned by the Thomas Keller Group there that is the talk of the town. I also hear it has a three-month wait time for a reservation.
The French Laundry specializes in classic French cuisine, but, true to any Chef Keller creation, the menu changes daily. You can often find Ossetera Caviar and some of the industry’s most delectable macaroni and cheese (yes, you read that right) on his daily tasting menu.
On Valentine’s Day, patrons will partake in a prepaid menu outfitted with Kaluga Caviar, Black Truffles, and Wagyu beef. Their glasses will be full of 2006 Dom Perignon upon entry, and their hands will hold a gift from Chef Keller on departure
Talula’s Table – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you’re already planning what to do for Valentine’s Day 2021, consider giving Taluala’s Table a call. The restaurant has a standard one-year wait time for those wishing to dine in. However, you can always pick up a few things from their market and make something at home as well.
This year, the chefs at Talula’s are offering guests a chance to get away and experience French cuisine like they’ve never had before (sorry, Chef Keller). Their menu includes French Fromage, Beef Short Rib or Salmon in Croûte, and a mini crepe duo. For those who couldn’t get a reservation, Talula’s is selling all of their Valentine’s Day specials to go, complete with reheating instructions.
Rao’s – New York City
This restaurant is one of the most difficult to get a reservation at no matter what day of the year you try. In fact, locals have dubbed it as a social club masquerading as a restaurant. Typical reservations are paid in advance and can cost between $1,000 and $25,000, depending on if you know a regular or not.
There is no special Valentine’s Day menu offered at Rao’s. In fact, their menu hasn’t changed at all since it opened in 1896. They stay true to their Southern Italian roots and offer some of the world’s best Italian cuisine.
To the owners, the Pellegrino family, authenticity is the true secret to serving up a Valentine’s Day meal that people will come back for. If you think there is more to it, purchase some of Rao’s famous marinara sauce from their market and see if you can find what else they use. No one else has done it yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be the first.